Stay Out Of My Basketball Court

Okay. I get it. The metaphor was apt and he made his point.

In our last phone conversation, my son spoke the words in the post’s title, and so in acquiescing to his wishes, I will no longer help, unless he asks. That’s as likely as a soup sandwich served with hot fudge and whipped cream on top.

I recently read in the Treatment Advocacy Center’s website that the progression of schizophrenia is more-or-less divided into thirds. One third of people get better and lead basically normal lives with jobs and families. Those in the middle third function in the community with support–but do not return to normal. Those in the bottom third have a downward spiral, often turning to drugs and alcohol, have poor physical health, are homeless or commit crimes while delusional and wind up in the prison system. Oh yeah, they also die twenty or twenty-five years younger than average.

My son was in the middle third until last year when he went off his meds. Although he is back on them (court-ordered), he has not returned to baseline, and I am afraid he will sink further since he resists all help, not only from me but from everyone in the medical community. He is one of those people with anosognosia, believing there is nothing wrong. While it is a common symptom in psychotic illnesses, having it is not a good sign. The sad thing is he (like many others) does not have to deteriorate if he gets proper treatment. The trick is accepting it, but if you’re disinclined, unless you are deemed a danger to yourself or others you can go your merry way.

Just today I read an article in the New York Times about people with psychotic illnesses functioning and participating in their communities. The common denominator was that they realized they needed outside intervention (meds and therapy) and took what was offered, along with their individual self-help regimens.

Last year when I was hospitalized for depression there was a fellow patient who looked to be in his sixties on my unit. He had once worked, been married, and had a son. By his poverty of speech, lack of cognitive abilities, and bizarre mannerisms, it was obvious he had schizophrenia. Unfortunately, he also passed the illness along to his son.

Since this older man was born during a time when there were fewer options, I don’t know whether his poor outcome was due to a malignant progression of the illness or something
else, but I remember my personal pain in picturing my son like him. Once again, the disturbing part is that it doesn’t have to happen. But I made my promise to stay out of his basketball court and a promise is a promise. So be it.


About waywardweed

I am a consumer and parent of two sons, one with a mental illness and the other a third-year law student.
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